Couple sues HOA over home invasion robbery

Article Courtesy of The Naples Daily News

By Kristine Gill 

Published March 27, 2015


When officers arrived at the home on Osprey Trail last March, they found Mike and Sabrina Ferry, their hands and feet bound with zipties.

The pair had been watching TV in their living room that Tuesday evening when men wearing masks and brandishing handguns busted into their house. The men stole cash and jewelry and the keys to the Ferrys’ car.

Theirs was the fourth Collier County home invasion in a five-week span.

Now the couple is suing their homeowner’s association, saying the Estuary at Grey Oaks neighborhood promised a secure community and failed to deliver despite knowledge of the recent home invasions going on in the county.

The Ferrys filed their lawsuit in January with Miami attorney Robert Carlson.

“They are still deeply traumatized by the violent armed home invasion and robbery that occurred at their residence,” Carlson said in a statement on behalf of his clients. “They believe the evidence will show that the entire situation could and should have been avoided if the defendants had implemented proper security protocols rather than put their own financial well being over the safety of the community. They sincerely hope that no one ever has to go through such an experience again.”

The lawsuit accuses the Estuary of negligence by putting the community at risk.

Specifically, it says Estuary officials knew that home invasion robberies had been taking place and failed to repair a broken down fence surrounding the community. It was through that broken fence the Ferrys say masked men entered the community and found their home.

The Ferrys are suing for damages and attorney fees saying they’ve suffered “personal injuries and severe emotional trauma, which are ongoing and permanent in nature.”

The lawsuit goes on to say the association knew about the rash of home invasions, which were being reported in the news, and the group had been informed of the crimes and the risk by its property management company.

Five attorneys are listed as representing several corporations related to the Estuary neighborhood as well as three officers and directors of the property owners association.

One attorney for the defendants, Jennifer Daku Burby, declined to comment on the lawsuit while several others did not return calls for comment.

But court records show that Conroy Simberg, an attorney for Grey Oaks Community Services, file to dismiss the complaint this month, saying preventing the home invasion would have been beyond their control and that the Ferrys were at least partially at fault. The motion to dismiss does not say exactly how the Ferrys were at fault.

Additionally, the defendants say that as individual homeowners, the Ferrys are not the beneficiaries of the contract between Estuary at Grey Oaks and Grey Oaks Community Services Inc.

The Ferrys, who have a home in Las Vegas, have since left and are selling their 7,851-square-foot home for $5.99 million. Records show they bought the six-bedroom, six-bath home in 2009 for $4.3 million.

No hearing date has been set for the lawsuit. The case will be heard by Collier Circuit Judge Cynthia Pivacek.

The rash of home invasions began Feb. 13, 2014, when five men burst into a home on White Boulevard and held guns to the heads of adults and children inside.

Six days later, on Feb. 19, two men with guns broke into a home on Golden Oaks Lane, demanding money from the homeowner, who suffered a black eye, among other injuries.

The next break-in was five days later, Feb. 24, when two men broke into a home on 17th Avenue South in Naples.

The Ferrys were next. Their home invasion took place March 11, 2014, at about 10 p.m.

The fifth local home invasion took place April 3, when three men targeted a Groveland Terrace home in the Quail West neighborhood in North Naples.

Local authorities formed a home invasion task force and later teamed up with authorities in the Orlando area, where robberies with similar characteristics had been reported.

Eventually, five men were arrested and charged with the five crimes. They were accused of attacking homes, mostly at night, and usually in upscale neighborhoods.

They bound victims with duct tape or zip ties and often entered neighborhoods on foot before fleeing in the victims’ cars and disposing of them nearby.